Tips for speeding up WordPress

One of the big benefits of WordPress is the many plugins that can expand the basic functionality quite dramatically. However the more plugins you’re using in your WordPress blog, the higher is the risk of the blog beginning to be slow and consume a lot of server resources.

A slow and resource demanding blog has several serious downsides. Users are normally not that patient, so if your blog is slow, there is a big risk, that the users will proceed to another blog instead.  High consumption of server resources might get you into trouble with your hosting company, and last but not least, there is strong indication that several search engines like Google might include page speed as part of their page rank in the near future.

This post gives you a few easy to implement tips to speed up your WordPress based blog, and thereby save server resources, and give your users a better experience.

Caching

One of the first things to consider is to enable caching of your blog. Caching reduces the consumption of server resources and response times dramatically, by serving cached pages to your readers instead of generating the same file database/file calls each time the same page is being requested.

There are several caching plugins for WordPress. In this post we’ll recommend the “W3 Total Cache” plugin. The W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress and is among others used on popular sites like:  mashable.com, pearsonified.com, noupe.com, webdesignerdepot.com, freelanceswitch.com, briansolis.com, tutsplus.com, yoast.com and css3.info.

Some of the benefits of this plugin is:

  • At least 10x improvement in site performance (when fully configured: Grade A in YSlow or great Google Page Speed Improvements)
  • “Instant” second page views (browser caching after first page view)
  • Reduced page load time: increased visitor time on site (visitors view more pages)
  • Optimized progressive render (pages appear to load instantly)
  • Improved web server performance (easily sustain high traffic spikes)
  • Up to 80% Bandwidth savings via Minify and HTTP compression of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and RSS feeds

Installing W3 Total Cache is very easy – just search for it and install it from your plugin page – and then you’re up and running.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Another advantage of W3 Total Cache is the support for a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Small or large, if you’re looking to grow your business online, and especially if you have a internationally audience, CDN is a must-have.  By bringing your content close to the user’s connection point, a CDN reduces  load times and  increases  scalability.

A CDN is especially efficient for hosting CSS and Javascript files, downloadable objects, applications, real-time media streams, and much more.

MaxCDN provides a CDN service with direct access points in more than 90 countries.

MaxCDN has a price structure that starts at 10$ for a big bucket of traffic

Image compression

Image compression is one of the oldest tricks in the webmaster world, however it’s still very relevant even if audience of your blog is typically having broadband connections.

Included in the YSlow website performance package from Yahoo for Mozilla Firefox, is the great tool smush.it. With this tool you can easily optimize images and thereby saving bandwidth and reducing download times.

For WordPress smush.it gets even smarter. Install the WP Smush.it plugin, and then all images uploaded to you posts, will automatically be optimized before they are added to the post.

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About the author
Jørgen Nicolaisen has been passionately interested in everything online since 1995. His experience is based on working with small hobby projects as well as high volume websites. Jørgen is currently focused on the PHP based programming framework - Codeigniter, and WordPress naturally

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